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Julie Sanhi's Introduction to Indian Cooking
by Julie Sahni
ISBN 0898159768 / 9780898159769 / 0-89815-976-8
Publisher Ten Speed Press
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Julie Sahni's Introduction to Indian Cooking makes the exquisitely spiced food of her native land accessible to nearly anyone. All the exotic ingredients, including thyme-like ajowan (ajwain) and tart tamarind, are explained, but most recipes call only for items available at most supermarkets.
Sahni, who loves to teach, here uses authentic food to illustrate an important point: in India, the spicing is complex but cooking techniques and equipment are simple. She proves this with well over 100 recipes that can be comfortably made by an average cook. The tandoori dishes, mostly kabobs, call for simple marinades. Ten pilafs range from plain and foolproof boiled basmati rice to a voluptuously peach-studded dish. Malabar Coconut Shrimp (a quick sauté); cumin-coated, seared and boiled potatoes; and New Delhi Spiced Lentils are all dishes one could turn out on a weeknight in about 30 minutes.
Sahni tells how Indians use spices medicinally (as well as for seasoning), how an Indian meal differs from a Western one, and how you can eat Indian style. The chapter on breads alone is a great introduction to this fascinating accompaniment to most Indian meals.
This is a perfect first Indian cookbook. It provides a sampling of the vivid flavors of a range of regional Indian dishes. More experienced cooks will want it as a source for Indian dishes simple enough to cook on a weeknight. There are 16 pages of color photos. -- Dana Jacobi [via]